Picture Books

Author of the Month: Uri Shulevitz

Picture book writer and illustrator Uri Shulevitz came into a world on the brink of a devastating war.  The son of son of Abraham and Szandla (Hermanstat) Shulevitz, Uri (pronounced oo-ree), he was only four years old when German bombs falling on Warsaw drove his Jewish family out of the city and into an eight-year period of travel in exile throughout Europe before finally settling in Paris in 1947, when Uri was twelve years old. 

Where's Walrus by Stephen Savage

Where's Walrus by Stephen Savage

All is well at the city zoo. The zookeeper lies back in his chair, grabbing a quick snooze. It is a perfect time…for escape.

Where’s Walrus, written and illustrated by Stephen Savage is a delightful romp through New York City with a flippered fugitive who always knows where he can blend in, outsmarting the zookeeper every step of the way. Our title character first hides in a fountain, pretending to be a mermaid, next we see him in a diner, then a store window. The zookeeper is close behind, but never quite sees through the disguises. Will you?

The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick

My booktalking buddy and I were walking past one of the big screens at the England Run branch, and it was playing a crystal-clear print of an old, old movie, made way back when moviemaking was young. It had excellent effects, too, for such an early film. "We have a picture book by the man who made this movie," said my colleague, "The Invention of Hugo Cabret, by Brian Selznick."

What a big book, made of half pictures, half words! The reader is drawn into the world of Hugo Cabret, a boy who lives in the walls of a train station in Paris. He is not always alone, but he is trying to keep himself a secret. His uncle used to wind and fix the many clocks in the train station, but he disappeared. Now Hugo winds them, and works on a project of his own. He has a mechanical man, a legacy of his father, and a notebook of drawings of the works of the mechanical man. Hugo needs parts for his project, so he steals them from the grumpy old man's toy booth at the station. Hugo does not realize the grumpy old man has secrets too....

Won Ton: A Cat Tale Told in Haiku by Lee Wardlaw, illustrated by Eugene Yelchin

Won Ton: A Cat Tale Told in Haiku by Lee Wardlaw, illustrated by Eugene Yelchin

Most books about pet adoption are told from the child’s or family’s point of view. But Won Ton: A Cat Tale Told in Haiku by Lee Wardlaw explores the delights of adopting a shelter cat from the cat’s perspective. During visiting hours, he pretends not to care but can’t resist taking a peek. On the car ride to his new home, he begs to be let out, only to insist on being let back in. In true cat fashion, he is sure of his own importance. He certainly deserves a name worthy of an oriental prince. “Won Ton? How can I / be soup? Some day, I’ll tell you / my real name. Maybe.”

Cranberry Thanksgiving by Wende and Harry Devlin

Cranberry Thanksgiving by Wende and Harry Devlin

It's Maggie's favorite day of the year in Wende and Harry Devlin's Cranberry Thanksgiving. She and her grandmother live on a New England cranberry farm. It's lonely and cold at the edge of the sea, but on Thanksgiving the house is warm with lots of good cooking. As part of their family tradition, Maggie and Grandma have each invited someone who otherwise would have to spend Thanksgiving alone.

Olivia Goes to Venice by Ian Falconer

Olivia Goes to Venice by Ian Falconer

New York Times-bestselling author and illustrator Ian Falconer wrote the first book in the Olivia series after being inspired by his little niece. Since that first book, he has written a handful more starring that mischievous little pig using his signature minimalist style in black and white with a splash of red here and there.

Everyone’s favorite black and white pig is back in Olivia Goes to Venice. It’s vacation time, and Olivia is going to Venice with her family. Even before they depart, Olivia shows her fabulous flare and tendency for drama while she’s packing her suitcase with flippers and water skis, “Mother, apparently the city is often under water and –”, and even going through airport security, “As they went through the airport, Olivia was searched for weapons. She was very pleased.”

Jumpy Jack and Googily by Meg Rosoff and Sophie Blackall

Jumpy Jack and Googily

Jumpy Jack and Googily, by Meg Rosoff and Sophie Blackall, is about the very special friendship of Jumpy Jack the snail and his pal, Googily. Jumpy Jack thinks there could be a monster behind every nook and cranny. Good thing he’s got Googily, who bravely investigates Jumpy Jack’s every fearful suspicion and reassures his friend that no monster could be lurking near. The humor in this sweet account of the exchange between two friends is that Googily himself is a monster, matching the exact description Jumpy Jack provides when he expresses the frightful possibilities his wild imagination creates.

Knuffle Bunny Free by Mo Willems

Knuffle Bunny Free by Mo Willems

All good things must come to an end. This includes books, toys, and especially books about toys. After two previous adventures of missing bunny mayhem, Mo Willems has gracefully ended one of his strongest series with Knuffle Bunny Free.

The first two Knuffle (pronounced ca-nuffle) Bunny books, young Trixie and her parents deal with the loss and determined effort to find her favorite stuffed animal. It’s a fairly straightforward conflict that parents immediately recognize. Trixie was a baby in the first volume, and school age in the second effort. This last installment visits her a few years later on a trip to Holland to visit her grandparents. This time, Trixie leaves her beloved rabbit on the plane.

Here Comes the Garbage Barge! by Jonah Winter and illustrations by Red Nose Studio

Here Comes the Garbage Barge!

On a blazing summer's day, there's nothing quite like the aroma of piping hot...garbage. It's gross, slimy, and we each make about four pounds of it per day. The one thing that everyone can agree on is that no one wants to deal with garbage, and that notion is exactly what Here Comes the Garbage Barge!  is all about.

In 1987, over 3,000 tons of Long Island, New York's garbage was loaded onto a barge and pulled by the tugboat Break of Dawn.  The plan was to unload the cargo in North Carolina, where poor farmers had been paid to bury the waste. But when the barge and its captain arrived, they met a police boat which refused to let them dock there under any circumstances. So began a wild goose chase up and down the coast to find a place to store the disgusting floating dump.

LMNO Peas by Keith Baker

LMNO Peas by Keith Baker

LMNO Peas, by Keith Baker, will bring a smile to parents who have heard their children slur the middle letters together as they sing the alphabet song. This engaging book is populated by lively Peas whose occupations and activities match the letters of the alphabet. These little “pea-ple” are acrobats and explorers, parachutists and X-ray doctors.

Baker’s colorful illustrations bring the peas to life as they bicycle across the pages to the finish line, dive underwater or juggle dishes. The images are simple and clear, perfect for reading aloud to a group, but with plenty of detail to invite closer looking. Parents will enjoy such hidden treasures as “The King” singing for the kayakers. See if you can find the ladybug hiding in every two-page spread.